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David Wells:

There are one billion Roman Catholics worldwide, one billion people who are subject to the Pope’s authority. How, one might ask, did all of this happen? The answer, I believe, is far more complex and untidy than Catholics have argued. First, I will give a brief explanation of what the Catholic position is, and then, second, I will suggest what I think actually took place.

The traditional Catholic understanding is that Jesus said that it was upon Peter the church was to be built (Matt. 16:18−19; see also John 21:15−17; Luke 22:32). Following this, Peter spent a quarter of a century in Rome as its founder and bishop, and his authority was recognized among the earliest churches; this authority was handed down to his successors. Indeed, the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) re-affirmed this understanding. Apostolic authority has been handed on to the apostles’ successors even as Peter’s supreme apostolic power has been handed on to each of his successors in Rome.

The problem with this explanation, however, is that there is no evidence to sustain it.

You can read the whole thing here.

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12 thoughts on “Where Did the Idea of Having a Pope Come From?”

  1. Bruce Russell says:

    The popular face of the church always models itself after popular culture. Thus, Roman Catholicism long ago modeled itself after Divine Right Monarchy, just as contemporary evangelicals now copy Big Box Retail.

  2. Thomas Aquinas says:

    You’re right Bruce. This is why when Benedict abdicated the papacy the Church referred to it as being “voted off the island.” On the other hand, the idea of congregationalist ecclesiology has absolutely nothing to do with the rise of democracy in Western countries. Pure coincidence.

    1. Thomas, is that really you? From beyond the grave?

  3. Bruce Russell says:

    Thomas: The rise of “Democracy” these days maps with the idea that we find the truth within ourselves. We will search in vain.

  4. Reformed Totally says:

    I don’t know what happened to my previous comment, but I had a major slip in my post. I said “Calvinism being taken to the ends of the earth” and I meant to say “the gospel being taken to the ends of the earth”. I guess if you talk about Calvinism the way Spurgeon did when he referred to is as an articulation of the true gospel that there could be some merit to the way I put it, but I honestly wasn’t intending that. Anyway, it looks like the editors removed the comment, not sure why, but maybe the Calvinism slip caused it to get removed.

    Peace and Grace

  5. Bruce Russell says:

    Reformed Totally:

    If you send the Gospel to the ends of the, earth, I’m sure Calvinism won’t be far behind. My only problem with equating “Calvinism” with the Gospel is that it has a weak Eschatological component, and the Gospel is first and foremost about an inaugurated future physical reward.


    1. Patrick Murks says:

      “the Gospel is first and foremost about an inaugurated future physical reward.” ? really? Where did you learn this? That could be part of it but it´s not certainly the main point of it.

      The Gospel is about the our Lord Jesus and what he did in his life, death and resurrection and ultimately about the Glory of God, not us.
      I believe Calvinism is the true biblical teaching, and the doctrine that exalts more the gospel.

  6. Caleb Suko says:

    The idea of having one guy who is in charge of the entire Body of Christ on earth is comforting, I’d just rather that one guy be Jesus than the pope!

    1. Patrick Murks says:

      Comforting? Didn´t our Lord Jesus sent the Holy Spirit? Why on earth would we want a guy to be in charge of something so sacred and which only belong to God? Not at all comforting, at the contrary, that would be an offense to God and us because that´s a place that only corresponds to God, no to any man, whosoever that is.

      1. Caleb Suko says:

        Patrick I think you missed the last line of my comment.

        1. Patrick Murks says:

          I read it. Just that I interpreted the first line as a affirmation, maybe it was sarcasm…

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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